Thursday, April 30, 2015

US Program to Resettle Central American Minors Likely to Help Few

By David L. Wilson and Jane Guskin, Truthout
April 30, 2015

Central American children are back in the news. The number of unaccompanied minors crossing the border was up again in March, although it was still only half the figure recorded in March 2014. Parents and young children continue to be held in immigration detention centers, leading to protests like a five-day hunger strike at the Karnes, Texas, facility in early April. And Republican politicians and ultraconservative media are once again complaining that President Obama is being soft on undocumented children fleeing violence in Central America.

The right's latest target is a program the Obama administration announced last fall under which some Central American immigrant parents can apply to have children still living in their home country declared refugees and reunited with their families here. According to the US State Department, which administers the program, the goal is "to provide a safe, legal, and orderly alternative to the dangerous journey that some children are currently undertaking to the United States."

"This is in complete violation of what the Constitution says," Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Arizona) announced on April 23 as he prepared to deliver a letter co-signed by 36 representatives demanding an end to the program. A Senate judiciary subcommittee held a hearing that day to discuss the policy, which subcommittee chair Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Alabama) claimed had "created a dangerous situation."

The legislators' concerns seem exaggerated.[...]

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Where Are the Children?

For extortionists, undocumented migrants have become big business.

By Sarah Stillman, The New Yorker
April 27, 2015

The kidnapper sounded polite, even deferential, when she called on a Tuesday afternoon last May. Melida Lemus and Alfredo Godoy had left their clapboard house in Trenton, New Jersey, to pick up their two daughters from school. Godoy, who works in construction, was late to meet a client for whom he was building a home extension, and his family accompanied him to the project site. Melida and the girls—Kathryn, twelve, and Jennifer, seventeen—waited in the client’s living room, snacking on cookies and checking Instagram, while Alfredo walked through the house, taking specs: how much Sheetrock he’d need, how much spackle, how many two-by-fours. In the middle of the tour, his cell phone rang. The call came from a Texas area code.

“Are you the father of two boys?” a woman asked.

“Yes,” Godoy replied. “Is everything O.K.?”

“I have them here at my house,” she said.[...]

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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Brooklyn car wash workers will get pay raise after strike

By Erica Pearson, New York Daily News
April 5, 2015

After more than four months on the picket line, a group of Brooklyn car wash workers are set to sign a contract boosting pay and protections — and get a $1,500-per-person bonus.

Immigrant “carwasheros” at the Vegas Auto Spa in Park Slope — who joined the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union in January — secured a contract with the wash’s owner this week, workers and union officials said. Their wages will go up to $9 an hour, including tips.

“There is going to be more respect for us, and protection, like gloves and masks. Respect and dignity,” said Angel Rebolledo, 53, who has been washing, vacuuming and shampooing cars at the Park Slope wash for about a year.[...]

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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Roll Back Low Wages: Report

Nine Stories of New Labor Organizing in the United States

By Sarah Jaffe, Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung NY
March 2015

In this study, labor journalist Sarah Jaffe, whose writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The Atlantic, The Guardian, The Nation, and In These Times and who works as co-host of Dissent magazine’s Belabored podcast, examines this series of low-wage workers’ movements that has gained strength in recent years. Including fast food strikes and the fight for a $15 minimum wage; retail, grocery store, restaurant, and taxi workers; Carwasheros, domestic and home care workers, and those living in the U.S. under guestworker visas; Jaffe explores how these movements overlap and connect. She also analyzes their flaws and setbacks in order to better appreciate and learn how to reproduce their often-unreported victories. While, because of Washington gridlock, it might be a while before these campaigns impact federal legislation, they are already having a notable impact on policy in municipalities across the country: winning minimum wage increases; helping to pass employment-specific regulations and ordinances in cities and states that require businesses to give workers paid sick days; and forming legally recognized collective bargaining units and winning concessions from employers through direct action.

For report, go to:

Monday, April 27, 2015

Distribuyendo las responsabilidades/Assigning Responsibility

La historia de las intervenciones de los Estados Unidos en Honduras lleva decenios
[English below]

Distribuyendo las responsabilidades
Por Elvira Arellano, La Opinión
2 de abril, 2015

Cuando mi hijo hace algo que no debe, le miro y le pregunto si acepta la responsabilidad. Me dice “sí, mamá, acepto la responsabilidad”.

Cuando un policía le pega un tiro a un afronorteamericano o a un latino que no porta armas, hemos aprendido que asignar la responsabilidad toma tiempo. Aun cuando se determina que el oficial tiene la responsabilidad, hay más preguntas. ¿Acaso ha existido un patrón de racismo y violencia excesiva en aquella corporación policial? ¿Tal vez la capacitación de los oficiales era de baja calidad?

Pero cuando cientos de hombres, mujeres y niños hondureños resultan mutilados mientras que viajan encima de “la Bestia” en un intento desesperado para reunificarse con sus familias en los Estados, asignar la responsabilidad es un poco más complejo.[...]

Lea el artículo completo:

Assigning Responsibility
By Elvira Arellano
April 2, 2015

When my son does something wrong I can look him in the eyes and ask him if he is responsible. He will tell me. Yes, mother. I am responsible.

When a police officer shoots an unarmed African American or Latino we have learned it takes time to assign responsibility. Even when the officer is found to be responsible there remain questions. Was there a pattern of racism and excessive violence in the police department? Was there poor training?

Yet when hundreds of men, women and children are mutilated while traveling from Honduras north on “La Bestia”, on top of the train, in a desperate effort to be reunited with their families in the United States, it is more difficult to assign responsibility.

Many of these Honduranos are gathered at the U.S. border, seeking attention to their condition – and still seeking to return to their families in the United States.

Who is responsible for their injuries? We can blame the Mexican authorities for failure to protect them on their journey – and there is no doubt in my mind that they have some responsibility. We can blame to Honduran authorities for the conditions of violence and poverty that drive so many men, women and children to make the journey north. Certainly that government shares in the responsibility. Some blame the travelers themselves. “They are responsible for the risks that they took.”

Yet when looking to assign responsibility the United States government is never mentioned. That failure to assign responsibity to the U.S. has been a real obstacle in our battle to stop the deportations and it is now even more of a problem as we fight for the return of family members who have been deported.

The history of U.S. intervention in Honduras is decades long. The history of the United Fruit Company’s exploitation of the Honduran economy is decades long. As late as 2009, the U.S. was reported to have supported a military coup against a democratically elected government. Certainly, the U.S. quickly supported the military government. The country was in chaos. The military moved to destroy the opposition causing more chaos.

So doesn’t the U.S. bear responsibility for those who left the poverty and violence of Honduras, came to this country with their families and were later deported and separated from those that depended on them?

The myth that the undocumented came to this country to “pursue the American Dream” has covered up the truth of U.s. policies that have created a forced migration. From the beginning of our struggle, the failure to assign responsibility has made it more difficult to stop the deportations and separation of families. We have been faced with an arrogant government that cast blame on everybody but themselves and demonized the victims of the forced migration.

It is not too late. Moreover, the millions of people who have come from Mexico and Central America who are here now know the conditions that forced them to journey north – and many understand clearly the role of the U.s. government for the poverty and violence in their country.

We will never really solve the “immigration crisis” until we address U.S. government and corporate policies in Latin America. Just as we will never stop police murder and racial profiling by giving sensitivity training to police officers, so we will never solve the terrible things that happen to the migrant families until we address the responsibility for decades of forced migration.

That task is the responsibility of our community, the responsibility of our community for our people.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Continuing the Crackdown on Kids

The "Biden Plan" for Central America treats refugee children as a national security threat.

By Laura Carlsen, Foreign Policy in Focus
March 31, 2015

When the crisis of unaccompanied minors migrating to the United States burst onto the front pages last summer, it seemed at last the U.S. government would come to grips with its legacy of disaster amid the current havoc in Central America.

The United Nations documented that most of the children were fleeing violence — violence caused in part by the failure to restore constitutional order following the Honduran coup of 2009 and the unfinished peace processes after the dirty wars in El Salvador and Guatemala, where Washington propped up right-wing dictatorships for years.

The governments of those three countries — known as the Northern Triangle — certainly share some of the blame for the mass exodus, which is not as new or unprecedented as the press made out when it sounded the alarm.

But in the end, the problem isn’t one of assigning blame, but rather helping children in conditions of extreme vulnerability, right?

Apparently not.[...]

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Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Dim Sum Revolution

How a brigade of kitchen workers got back what had been stolen from them, and then some.

By Vanessa Hua, San Francisco Magazine
March 30, 2015

Even after Zhen LI leads a rousing chant—“Workers organize, everybody wins!”—no one else wants to step up to the microphone. Tiny and bespectacled, her hair in a jet-black bob, Li has the look of a Chinatown matron, one of those tenacious hagglers who elbows her way through the crowds on Stockton Street to purchase jade-green gai lan and silvery carp. Wearing jeans, sturdy black shoes, and a puffy striped jacket, she exhorts her fellow proletarians to join her up front and holds out the mic to a nearby woman. The woman tries to beg off, pleading, “I’m sick—my throat hurts,” but cheers draw her to her feet, and she sheepishly echoes Li’s rallying cry.

On this rainy evening in early December at the Chinese Cultural Center, Li and dozens of workers—mostly women, mostly middle-aged and older— are celebrating with greasy takeout, cake, a slideshow, and speeches. While some are clearly shy about speaking in public, they are no longer scared. They’ve already achieved the impossible: Their solidarity has won them an astonishing sum—$4 million—from a powerful employer that had systematically undercut their wages, pocketed their tips, and forced them to work under brutal conditions.[...]

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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Walmart Seeking Foreign Guest Workers To Fill U.S. Tech Jobs, AFL-CIO Finds

By Dave Jamieson, Huffington Post
April 1, 2015

Walmart is famous for keeping labor costs down inside its more than 5,000 brick-and-mortar U.S. stores. According to a new report from the AFL-CIO, the world's largest retailer may have found a way to save money on its tech workers in the U.S., too.

Researchers at the labor federation found that Walmart has been submitting a growing number of applications for H-1B visas with the federal government. Such visas let U.S. companies employ foreign workers here temporarily, often in high-tech capacities and at lower wages than their American counterparts would typically fetch.

According to the research paper, Walmart filed 1,800 petitions for H-1B visas over the last eight years, with the annual number increasing from 79 in 2007 up to 513 in 2014. Over the same period, offshore outsourcing firms have filed nearly 15,000 such petitions for work in Bentonville, Arkansas, Walmart's corporate home. That includes companies such as Infosys and Cognizant, IT service firms that are among the top H-1B users.[...]

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Monday, April 6, 2015

Dozens of Mothers Stage Hunger Strike at Immigrant Detention Center in Texas

'We want freedom for our children. It’s not right to continue to detain us.'

By Nadia Prupis, Common Dreams
April 2, 2015

About 40 women being held at the privately-run Karnes Family Detention Center in southern Texas launched a hunger strike this week to demand their release and the release of their families, vowing on Tuesday not to eat, work, or use the services at the facility until they are freed.

Nearly 80 women being held at the center, many of whom are said to be asylum seekers from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, signed a letter stating that they have all been refused bond despite having established a credible fear of violence if they are sent back to Central America—a key factor in the U.S. government's process for screening detained immigrants to allow them amnesty.[...]

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Sunday, April 5, 2015

Review: In ‘The Hand That Feeds,’ Workers Rise Up at a Hot & Crusty

By Ben Kenigsberg, New York Times 
April 2, 2015

Films about labor relations don’t always need the massive scale of “Harlan County, U.S.A.” (1976), which watched a miners’ strike unfold. The advocacy documentary “The Hand That Feeds” chronicles organizing efforts at a Hot & Crusty on Second Avenue at 63rd Street in Manhattan. (Some material shot for the film was adapted into a New York Times Op-Doc in 2013.)[...]

Read the full review:

For more reviews:

The film opens in New York on April 3 at the Cinema Village, located at 22 East 12th Street.
For more information:
212-924-3363 .

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Florida no longer safe haven for war criminals as US prosecutors take action

Accused human rights abuser Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova, 77, moves closer to deportation in likely precedent for future cases in Sunshine State

By Richard Luscombe, The Guardian
March 23, 2015

As one of an estimated 3.6 million senior citizens living in Florida, Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova found the perfect place to hide in plain sight. From shopping trips with his wife Lourdes in the upscale malls of Daytona Beach to gourmet meals at popular restaurants, he appeared to be just another septuagenerian enjoying the good life in the country’s favourite retirement playground.

Vides, however, was guarding a secret. The smartly dressed pensioner was once an army general and defence minister in El Salvador during a bloody 12-year civil war in the 1980s, and he stands accused of covering up a series of atrocities, including the rape and murder of four American churchwomen.[...]

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